Sunday, August 14, 2011

Re-Entry. . .

People have told me I need to take time to journal about China. No problem. I like journaling. But people never tell me what exactly I’m supposed to journal about China. I am searching for some prompts or helpful psychoanalytical questions to get me started. For example, “If you could describe your time in China as a color, what color would it be and why?” and so on. But there are no prompts, and I don’t have the super important books I’m supposed to read about re-entry. So, I just flounder around in my thoughts a lot and sometimes write them down on paper or sometimes let them spill over while talking with my “foreign” friend who is further along than me in the adjustment period.

At this point in the process, mostly I feel a huge relief that I don’t have to get on a plane after merely five weeks of being home with family to head back to China. I feel thankful that I haven’t had to stock up on a years’ supply of things I might possibly need: hand-sanitizer, deodorant, hair gel, band-aids, shavers, shaving cream, and so on. Not to mention all the baking goods that seemed so important to me my first year in China. I feel thankful I don’t have to go buy appropriate teaching shoes or blouses that actually fit. I feel happy that I don’t have to buy local snacks such as beef jerky, Chico-sticks, and licorice to stuff into my suitcase. Happy that I haven’t looked at my passport for 5 weeks. Happy that I don’t have to say good-bye to family with such permanence as I cry through most of the domestic flights and layovers on the return journey to China. For these things, I feel relieved and contented. It feels amazing to relax through an entire August without dramatic farewells.

But sometimes when I am shopping at the super market, I think I hear a few Chinese words coming from Caucasian looking kids, and then I realize that I’m just hearing things. I have dreams about my friends in China. In the dream, we are talking, and my friend usually has some big problem she is dealing with. I can’t help her, and usually end up scolding her in the end, telling her she should be more polite. I wake up feeling sad and homesick. I look for these same Chinese friends online. I talk with them late into the night. I have a new hunger to watch all Chinese movies that have ever made it to the States. I am finally ready, yet again, to read books about China after having no desire to do so for the past 4 years. I can’t get enough of Chinesepod. I miss fried noodles. I miss using chopsticks. I say weird things about “harmony” and “convenience.” I watch movies set in China and cry even during the happy parts. My new favorite color is China red. And it has only been 6 weeks since I have been back in the States.

And my thoughts have no resolve about “what’s next?” And in fact when people ask me what I’m going to do next year, I feel kind of angry, and then I feel sad and depressed because this is the culture I have come back to. . . where you need a 5 year plan. But in China, you don’t even really need a 5 hour plan. But I guess, there is some beautiful balance to be struck between both cultures, some way to hold on to the good points of both without allowing the bad points to be more annoying than they should. And until I figure out how to do that, I guess I'm here with my jumbled thoughts asking myself "What's next?" and kind of scared what the answer might be.

1 comment:

Norman & Joyce said...

Be careful of the "flames" on reentry.